If you've seen A Quiet Place, you're probably still recovering emotionally. Once you have, you'll probably start wondering just how they created those long-armed, scary-eared, creepy-ass monsters that are haunting your dreams.
We chatted with Scott Farrar, the film's visual effects supervisor, about how they designed the most frightening monster since the Demogorgon in Stranger Things. Here's everything we learned:
1. John Krasinski originally used a lot of nature reference photos to try and communicate what he wanted the creature to look like — a lot of black snakes and prehistoric fish.
2. The team's first creature design (which they finished while the cast was filming) ended up looking too Slenderman-ish. according to Farrar, the creature originally looked "a bit humanoid, a little bit like a man in a suit, and his head was kind of [like a] rhinoceros."
3. But when the effects team started putting the creature in the movie to test it in shots, Krasinski called and said the creature wasn't scary enough.
4. The team had 12 weeks to redesign the creature, ahead of the movie's premiere at the South by Southwest film festival. They aimed to make it terrifying but also "a little more delicate."
5. Krasinski sent new reference photos and videos every day, including a motion study of a bat, which ended up being a big inspiration for the creature's redesign.
6. Farrar was drawn to the bat's "strangely long forearms and short upper arms," and the way the bat walked. "He’s loping along, left-right, left-right, left-right. It’s a little hippity-hop, it’s not a smooth run, and we thought that was very interesting."
7. Farrar also liked that the bat never really stood upright, and if you watch the creatures in the movie, they never stand fully upright either. "He’s always bent over, putting a lot of weight on those forearms," Farrar said.
8. In the first creature design, there were eardrums all over its body. It was covered in flaps — head, chest, shoulders, thighs, and back — that would open every time the creature needed to hear.
9. But Farrar encouraged Krasinski to let them go simpler, and for the sake of the narrative and to make the creature's anatomy visually clear for the audience, place the ears where humans would expect the ears to be.
10. Farrar wanted the inner ear shots to be "gross, absolutely medical-looking." He told Krasinski he wanted "slime and little pieces of fat [to] squish around, the squishier the better."
11. The team worked to design the closeup details of the creature down to the final day, and the inner ear was one of the final details. They made sure everything looked disgusting, down to the inner goo, which they wanted to look "stringy, like dog saliva."
12. Farrar describes the creature's natural overall skin color as "a dark coffee color." But the creatures don't have the ability to blend in entirely with their surroundings, like a chameleon.
13. Initially, executive producer Michael Bay told Farrar he was concerned about the color of the creature. He'd only seen gray drawings.
14. Farrar told Bay he planned to make the creatures the same color and texture as a bog body, aka a mummified dead body that's been disposed of and preserved in a peat bog.
15. "Peat is this dark, dark soil," Farrar explained. "It preserves [the bodies] perfectly. Their skin is tinted that dark, dark, almost black brown [color], with a dark leather texture. That’s what we wanted to copy."
16. Jaws and Alien served as huge inspirations for the film — Farrar and Krasinski wanted to show as little of the monsters as possible until the very end. "John said, 'Keep it dark and keep it out of focus and in the background; you barely see a thing, barely put light on it.'"